Wellington boots domestic foes and dares international rivals with record win

Wellington booted many of his domestic foes out of serious Hong Kong Sprint calculations and dared his international adversaries to beat him on his turf with his commanding, record-breaking win in the Group Two Premier Bowl (1,200m) at Sha Tin.

Racing for the first time since going back to back in editions of the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m) six months ago, Wellington carried more weight than any previous Premier Bowl winner and got within three-tenths of a second of Sacred Kingdom’s long-standing six-furlong track record.

Wellington, the highest-rated sprinter in Hong Kong following his three Group One victories in the past 18 months, lugged 135 pounds – including Alexis Badel – to kick off his campaign with a Premier Bowl defeat of $1.7 favourite Lucky Sweynesse.

In spite of carrying two pounds more than past Premier Bowl champions Able Friend (2015) and Mr Stunning (2017), Wellington posted the Group Two contest’s fastest time since Royal Delight’s win under lightweight jockey Shane Dye in 2007.

Wellington stopped the Sha Tin clock at 1:07.78, only marginally slower than both Royal Delight’s 1:07.60 with 114 pounds on his back and the Gerald Mosse-ridden Sacred Kingdom’s 1:07.50 with his impost of 123 pounds, the latter also 15 years ago.

In the build up to the Premier Bowl, Richard Gibson said statistics were against Wellington lugging so much more weight than his opponents, including 11 pounds extra than rising star Lucky Sweynesse.

But Gibson thought the result was barely in doubt shortly after the Sha Tin barriers opened and Wellington found the back of the odds-on shot.

“The moment I saw him jump I thought he’s going to be tough to beat, to be really honest,” said Gibson of Wellington, who extended his winning streak to four and improved his tally of victories to 10.

“He came out of the gates hungry and from that moment on, it was always a comfortable watch. I always thought he was going to make it.

“The only thing that surprised me was the price. You’ve got the best horse in Hong Kong for two years over this trip and he’s paid $9.2. I think despite the weight the price was extraordinary.”

Wellington’s next assignment is set to be the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint (1,200m) on November 20 before, if everything goes according to plan, he will line up in the Hong Kong Sprint during the Hong Kong International Races on December 11.

“He’s such a good athlete. He looks after himself well. I’ll be relying on his groom, who does such a good job with him, and his rider. I’ll be leaving all that in their expert hands,” said Gibson about Wellington’s next three weeks.

“A big shout out to the team because it’s a long time from April to October in any horse’s career, and they’ve done a great job getting him ready.

“Maybe the most satisfying thing I saw was his flexibility in running. I can’t really remember for a long time that’s he won on pace like that. We needed to ride him like that because of the track. He showed us another bow in his quiver.”



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